What Specific Institutional Strategies are Associated with Higher Retention Rates of Online Degree Seeking Students?

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Introduction With the advancements of technology, society is able to reach more degree-seeking students by offering online higher education. Many students are fulltime parents, husbands, wives and employees working hard to better their lives, and the lives of their family members through higher education. The popularity of online education is further seen in that the 21% growth rate for online enrollments, which far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population, with at least 5.6 million students enrolled in online courses in the fall of 2009(Conway k., Hachey A., Waldis C., 2012, para. 1). Due to this new growth in the adult education filed, it is necessary to study and research the specific institutional strategies associated with higher retention rates of online degree seeking students. Retention rates at all institutions are extremely important to follow due to business aspects, positive educational growth in society, political reasons and higher income potential for the students upon completion of their degree (Budden et al. 2010). Research Question “Intuitively, students who take a majority of courses online risk being removed from the academic atmosphere and may lack personal interaction with faculty” (Chong Ho Yu Ph.D. 2007, pg. 3). Almost every university or college offers online education to the students. This creates a risk of students feeling less academically integrated with their higher education institution. My research question is, “What specific institutional strategies are associated with higher retention rates of online degree seeking students?” My hypothesis is that students taking online classes, that feel more integrated academically with their university, are more likely to com... ... middle of paper ... ...gher retention rates for students taking online classes. The literature explores the factors that contribute to higher retention rates, which show academic integration key to the success of students in the virtual learning community. When students utilize the online learning environment they are taking a risk of feeling disconnected from the faculty and university from lack of face-to-face instruction. This has been shown to have a negative impact on retention rates (Chong Ho Yu Ph.D. 2007). Due to media advancements universities can now create strategies to combat this issue as well as other issues that need to be addressed when exploring retention rates. The importance of specific institutional strategies associated with higher retention rates at universities using online learning is imperative to scientifically study for the success of students and universities.

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